A study was published this week in the medical journal PLOSOne in which nearly 2000 people in the UK age 50 and above were surveyed about their knowledge of early cancer symptoms. The results were that these individuals had poor recognition of the symptoms of cancer, when they themselves experienced any of these symptoms.
So let’s review some of the potential warning signs that might indicate the presence of a cancer growing in your body. Most of the time, when you have any of the symptoms listed below, you do not have cancer, because many other problems besides cancer can cause these symptoms.
But if you have any of these symptoms—especially if they are severe, persist or get worse over time—you should be alert that cancer is a possibility, and be checked out by a doctor.
Cancers typically cause symptoms because they grow and push on neighboring tissues, and with time, without treatment, may spread (metastasize) to other areas. Some cancers cause generalized symptoms such as fatigue or weight loss, because they are using a part of your body’s energy to grow. Some tumors release substances that may cause fevers, itching or a rash, or cause your immune system to function poorly, leading to multiple infections.
Here is a summary of some of the more common symptoms of cancer. Again, many other conditions can cause these symptoms too, but these symptoms should alert you to the possibility of a malignancy in your body:
- Unexplained weight loss or chronic loss of appetite
- Persistent fatigue or low-grade fever
- Persistent indigestion, nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained pain
- A thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or other parts of your body
- A sore on your skin or in your mouth that does not heal
- Changes in the size, color, shape, or thickness of mole or dark spot on your skin
- Unexplained bleeding or discharge
- Change in bladder or bowel habits.
- Persistent cough or hoarseness.
- Difficulty swallowing
If in doubt, get checked. With early diagnosis, most cancers can be cured, and the earlier the diagnosis, the better the treatment works.
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